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Blockchain is surely the buzzword of the day. All you need to do is put blockchain in your title and your stock goes up, as we actually saw a soft drink company attempt at the end of last year.

Yet, beyond the hype is a real technology that has the potential to offer businesses the utility as an immutable record keeping system. It should come as no surprise then that the cloud vendors want to build a service that businesses can tap into to take advantage of that technology.

Blockchain is best known as the ledger behind the virtual currency bitcoin. The idea is that you can apply the same ledger idea to any business scenario where you need an immutable, irrefutable record. The market is still developing and quite young and it remains to be seen how much businesses will embrace it, but it is certainly the latest thing, and this year’s “it” technology.

Everybody’s doing it

One by one, we have watched as some of the biggest cloud vendors have marched out their blockchain services. It started with IBM, which introduced a blockchain service last spring. Microsoft followed last summer with the introduction of the Azure blockchain service. Then Oracle took a turn when it introduced a blockchain service of its own at Oracle OpenWorld last fall.

Surprisingly, Amazon and Google stayed out of it. At a press conference at AWS re:Invent last fall AWS CEO Andy Jassy quashed the idea that AWS would be introducing a blockchain service any time soon. They see it as a kind flavor of the moment and Jassy said his company doesn’t create new services because “it’s cool.” 

That leaves Google, which up until now has also been conspicuously missing from this developing market. That changed this week though when Reuter’s reported that Google is indeed working on a blockchain solution. It makes perfect sense actually. It’s an area that AWS has said it has no interest, and the market is still fresh enough for Google to have an impact.

Google needs a winner

Google Cloud has never quite developed into the business people expected. After all, Google runs some of the most resource-intensive cloud services in the world — think Gmail or YouTube — yet it hasn’t achieved the level of public cloud success its competitors have.

At its last earnings report, Google revealed its combined cloud revenue from G Suite and Google Cloud was $1 billion per quarter. While Google’s cloud head, Diane Greene was proud of that number, it was considerably less than what competitors have been reporting, which is more in the $4-$5 billion a quarter range.

That means that Google needs to make a splash. It’s still unclear how this market will develop over time, but if the hype is any indication, Google would be wise to try and stake a claim. If reports are correct, that is precisely what it intends to do.

Photo: Davidstankiewicz. Used under CC BY-SA 4.0 license via Wikimedia Commons

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Ron Miller

Posted by Ron Miller

Ron Miller is a freelance technology reporter and blogger. He is contributing editor at EContent Magazine and enterprise reporter at TechCrunch.

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